Monday, December 27, 2010

Randy Weston - Mosaic Select 4 (Mosaic, 2004)

Pianist and composer Randy Weston is still going strong, with a new album and biography in 2010. This collection is an interesting selection of early music enveloping trio, quartet and a large ensemble with vocalists. Disc one consists of the sextet and quintet albums Little Niles and Live at the Five Spot, showcasing Weston's Thelonious Monk influenced piano and his arrangements for small group especially on his standards-to-be "Hi-Fly" and "Little Niles." The live album is particularly exciting for the addition of tenor saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins and the agile drumming of Roy Haynes. Disc two focuses on small group studio playing, with Weston on solo and trio settings, sounding strong and agile across standard material and his own compositions. The ambitious music recorded on disc three was influenced by Weston's African travels, and feature intricate arrangements with vocalists and percussion and the leaders own strong and distinctive piano. This was one of the earlier attempts to being "world music" into jazz and it must have seemed really exotic to listeners of the time. It still holds up very well as does the rest of this collection, placing Weston in a number of different settings successfully. The package is up to the usual Mosaic standard with classy liner notes and photography and well remastered music. Anyone interested in Weston's early music or the development of piano jazz in the 1950's will enjoy this set. Mosaic Select 4 - amazon.com

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